Every year on August 10, the whole world celebrates Gay Tourism Day and honors the trailblazers and those who paved the way in their countries. An excellent opportunity to remember the Canarian activist Darío Jaén who was at the origin of gay tourism as we know it today in Maspalomas.
Darío Jaén was a gay activist who lived and worked for many years in Maspalomas. As a socialist councillor in the San Bartolomé de Tirajana town hall, he was able to influence the development of gay tourism in Gran Canaria from the very beginning and supported and encouraged the creation of numerous projects and initiatives, particularly the Maspalomas Gay Pride, but not only. He also helped found the Gay and Lesbian Association of the Yumbo (GLAY - Gays y Lesbianas Asociados del Yumbo) and the anti-AIDS movement "Amigos contra el sida". He has always acted as a true pioneer at a time when nobody wanted to get involved as much as he did. He gave a face to the cause of gay tourism, without shame and with honor, courageously personifying the battles and speaking out for those who didn't dare do so.
For many people, he will always be the "father of the gay pride", as it was often called.
Darío Jaén realized early on the importance of creating a genuine calendar of gay events that would take place throughout the year in Maspalomas, in order to offer entertainment and activities to tourists not just in May but throughout all the seasons. He wanted gay tourists to have a good reason to come to Gran Canaria at any time of the year. He helped create the first gay tourism brochures in Maspalomas, at a time when this was unheard of. He supported the local gay press and the various events that sprang up subsequently. He supported the gay businesses in the seaside resort, helping them grow in number and success. Finally, he carried out numerous important mediation tasks with tour operators and tourism agents in the LGTB segment at international fairs in Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Berlin, and London.
Darío Jaén was a charismatic person, always smiling, and a hard worker. Unfortunately, he died prematurely of AIDS in January 2011 at only 52 years old. In recognition of his work and investment, his name was given in June 2017 to the central space of the Yumbo, which is now called Plaza de la Diversidad Darío Jaén Rivero (a stupid name because Darío Jaén had nothing to do with diversity but mainly with gay tourism; diversity was not his fight). A plaque has been installed on the spot to commemorate his name forever and immortalize his memory. Three years earlier, in 2014, the Maspalomas Socialist Party created the Darío Jaén Prize to reward any action taken to combat discrimination based on sexual or gender identity.
No one in the history of Gran Canaria has done more than Darío Jaén for the development and recognition of gay tourism in Maspalomas, with talent, conviction and elegance. Eternal gratitude. We all owe him something.
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